Alice, Animals, Birds, Conservation, Wildlife

Many species of wild animals are on the decline, including hedgehogs, sparrows, and song thrushes. With an estimated 24 million gardens in the UK, these outdoor spaces have huge potential to nurture an array of creatures. Here are some simple solutions for how to help wildlife in your garden.

how to help wildlife in your garden

Go natural

An immaculate garden with with a tidy lawn, perfectly pruned hedges and every fallen leaf disposed of will impress your neighbours, but isn’t the best way to welcome wildlife. Leaves, weeds, and overgrown shrubs provide shelter for insects, birds, and small mammals. Long grass in particular is a great habitat, so make sure to leave at least a patch of your lawn unmown. Weeds are also a food source for many insects, including butterflies and moths.

Avoid pesticides

Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides will destroy unwanted pests, however chemicals are not selective: they will also destroy other insects including beneficial pollinators. Even insects such as aphids and slugs can be beneficial in maintaining the food chain. Alternative methods to protect your plants include using a cloche or fleece, companion planting, and using grease bands for trees.

Just add water

A pond is a great way of attracting an array of wildlife into your garden, including frogs, newts, birds, and insects. Make sure to incorporate a sloping bank area so animals can easily step in and out, and avoid adding fish as they eat tadpoles. If you don’t have space for a full-blown pond, a birdbath is a great way of providing drinking and bathing water to wild birds, and make sure to leave a bowl of water for thirsty wildlife on hot days.

Feed the birds

Food supplies for wild birds can run short, particularly in the winter, so it’s a great idea to offer nutrition for our feathered friends. It’s important to stick to a regular feeding schedule as irregular feeding could cause birds to expend energy flying to your garden then find there is no food. Make sure food is kept out of the reach of cats, and some of it is protected to allow small birds to feed in safety. Our range of bird feeders has a range of styles to suit various species and garden styles.

how to help wildlife in your garden

Bee-friendly flowers

Bees are highly beneficial pollinators, however due to the varroa mite and agricultural pesticides, their population is declining. Make your garden a rich food source for these creatures by planting open flowers such as daisies; flowering trees (including fruit trees); and legumes such as beans, peas, sweet peas. Sowing multiple plants in succession rather than occasional plants dotted around your garden works best. You can find out more about bee conservation in this article.

Diversity

A garden full of the same flower species creates a bold display, but isn’t great for wildlife. Growing a range of flowers provides a strong supply of nectar and helps create a healthy ecosystem with a wide range of insects, birds, and mammals.

Animal habitats

Bird nest boxes are a great way of providing shelter for wild birds and protecting them from predators. Our collection includes a variety of models to accommodate various species of bird; from small round-holed boxes for tits to more open styles for robins. There are now more habitat options available for other creatures. Our Hedgehog House Care Pack provides a great hibernation haven, and our Ladybird Tower is perfect for housing beneficial insects. Piles of logs and sticks can also provide shelter for various critters.

Compost

In addition to recycling kitchen waste and enriching the soil, compost can also enhance the bacterial and fungal life in your garden, which provides a base for other wildlife. A compost heap can also provide a home for creatures such as woodlice, worms, and frogs. Check out our guide on how to compost here!

A gap in the fence

Make sure animals such as hedgehogs and frogs can benefit the new wildlife-friendly additions to your garden by making sure your fences have some gaps at the bottom to allow wildlife to move through. This will also help link habitats together. However, if you or one of your neighbours have a dog, ensure that the gap is small enough that the dog cannot escape!

Let us know which adorable creatures have been visiting your garden on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

 

Animals, Birds, Megan, Wildlife

Buying bird food for the first time can be daunting with so many types available. We’ve put together an easy-to-use guide to ensure you know what bird food to buy for garden birds in terms of season and species.

Why Feed Garden Birds?

Providing food for garden birds can attract a variety of beautiful and colourful species to your garden that will be sure to fascinate adults and children alike. It also helps out birds by supplementing their diet. This is especially important in the colder winter months when natural food can be scarce.

Ready To Use Feeders & Kits

The easiest way to start feeding your garden birds is to go for a ready to use feeder or a bird care kit. These come ready assembled, with suitable bird food for the feeder supplied.

Bird Seed Mixes

garden birds - bird on feeder dish

A variety of bird seed mixes are available for ground feedersbird tables and hanging feeders. They are an important food supply for many birds such as blue titsrobins and greenfinches, depending on which mix you choose. It is best to buy high quality bird seed mix, that do not contain fillers such as lentils and rice. Only a small group of species can eat these dry, so investing in quality, such as brand Red Barn, will attract a wider range of birds to your garden.

Straights

Straight bird seeds are great sources of fat for many birds. They are a great choice for the more experienced bird feeders that know which species nestle in their garden. Straight food is also suitable if you want to venture into making your own bird feeders.

Peanuts

garden birds - peanuts

Peanuts are a great source of protein and unsaturated fat for birds. Leaving peanuts out for the birds will bring in a variety of new species to your garden including jays, house finches, chickadees and woodpeckers. Smaller birds like robins struggle to eat peanuts and prefer for them to be ground or grated up. Donut feeders are suitable for peanuts, or alternatively go for a squirrel-proof feeder as our furry friends also enjoy peanuts and may scare birds off.

Sunflower Seeds & Hearts

garden birds - sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds, both in and out of their shells, deserve one of the top spots for bird seed to feed garden birds. Many species are attracted to eating sunflower seeds making them a very versatile bird seed. Leaving out sunflower seeds will attract species such as nuthatches, cardinals and grosbeaks. Sunflower seed hearts are also a good choice if you’re looking for a no mess bird seed. Sunflower seeds are suitable for use in most garden bird seed feeders.

Nyjer Seeds

garden birds - bird on nyjer seed feeder

Nyjer seeds are an excellent energy source for garden birds and are favoured by finches. They are an oily seed as they are rich in oil content. Note that once the seeds have dried up garden birds won’t eat them. Ensure you buy the correct quantity that you will use to prevent waste. As nyjer seeds are so small it is a good idea to buy a feeder specifically designed to hold them.

Mealworms

garden birds: robin eating mealworm

Offering mealworms to your garden birds will attract a wide variety of wild bird species. They are a great source of protein for garden birds and attract insect-eating birds such as bluebirds, sparrows and wrens.

Suet Treats

Suet treats are packed full of fat and are an excellent food to provide for garden birds in the winter, but are also suitable for all year round feeding. Many contain essential energy and fats provided by ingredients such as lard, suet and nuts. Suet can come in pellets, in blocks, in coconut shells or formed into fat balls. Each is suitable for a different type of feeder. Pellets are suitable for use in feeders and blocks are great for placing on bird tables or in ground feeders. Fat balls are suitable for use in fat ball feeders and coconut shell feeders come ready to hang up. Be sure to remove the mesh bag that fat balls come in before putting them out in your garden for birds to feast on.

Overall, feeding garden birds can be a really rewarding experience. With so many types of food available, you’ll never know what exotic species could be flying into your garden for a treat or two.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Animals, Bird Baths, Composting, How To, Megan, Ponds, Wildlife

How To Care For Wildlife in Winter

As we approach the winter months, it is time for a lot of wildlife to find a cosy spot somewhere to hibernate. Species that do not hibernate prepare for harsh weather and a lot struggle to find food. This is where your garden can come in. By learning how to care for wildlife in winter you can save the lives of some wildlife that otherwise wouldn’t make it through the harsher winter months.

Hedgehogs

how to care for wildlife in winter hedgehog
In order for hedgehogs to survive their winter hibernation, they need to have a substantial amount of fat stored. You can help boost their fat reserves by leaving out small plates of meaty pet food, along with crunchy pet biscuits, which will help take care of their teeth. Once hedgehogs are ready to hibernate they like warm spots under piles of leaves and in logs. We suggest when collecting leaves, instead of composting all of them, place some underneath hedges at the edge of the garden. This creates welcome places hedgehogs can make a home for the winter. Talking of compost heaps, hedgehogs often like to nest in them so ensure you check your compost for hedgehogs before turning it over. Alternatively you could buy a ready-built hedgehog home for hedgehogs to settle in to.

Birds

how to care for wildlife in winter - bird on a branch

As birds do not hibernate, it is important to provide them lots of food and a water source over winter. Food in the wild can be scarce over the colder months. To help prevent starvation, have a variety of foods available to them over a number of feeding stations. Feeding stations range from bird tables to hanging feeders to ground feeding stations. The more variety of bird food you put out, the more diverse a species of bird you will find in your garden. Peanuts, bird seed mix, fat balls as well as any leftover dried fruit are all good choices and will attract blue tits to robins to goldfinches. To find out more about what bird food to put out check out our article here. It is also important to make sure birds have access to fresh water. Keep your birdbath topped up and ensure it doesn’t freeze over by placing a table tennis ball at the surface of the water.

Pond life

how to care for wildlife in winter - frog in a pond

Many of your fish will hibernate at the bottom of your pond during the winter months. It is vital that your pond does not freeze over during extra cold spells. This can trap poisonous gases, as well as suffocate frogs and the like. Help prevent this by placing a tennis ball at the surface or installing a pond heater. If it does freeze over, place a pan of boiling water on its surface to allow the ice to melt. Ensure you remove any fallen leaves and dead plant matter from your pond. If you leave this it can release harmful gases as it decomposes.

Insects

how to care for wildlife in winter - butterfly on leaf

Insects are often long forgotten when it comes to garden wildlife, but they are an important part of your garden’s ecosystem. Many play the vital role of pollination in your garden. Others are great predator control. One way you can help insects in the winter is by letting the grass on your lawn grow wildly. Try and resist mowing it until spring. This allows a place for butterflies and other insects to shelter from the harsh weather. Another way to provide shelter, as well as food for some creatures, is to create a log pile. You can also drill holes in the logs to create housing for solitary bees. Alternatively, buy a solitary bee pollinator house. Once you’ve built your log pile, be sure not to disturb it as not to interfere with the wildlife community inside.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Zoe

Care Home Garden

As many of you are already aware, Primrose has been running a national care home competition in which the lucky winner would receive £1000 towards their communal garden.  We have received near 100 entries from across the country from Glasgow all the way to Isle of Wight! There have been some incredibly moving nominations from those who work in care homes, those who have family in care homes and people who just simply want to support their local community.

A common pattern in all the entries was people recognising the amazing benefits of spending time outdoors, echoing the belief that the outdoors can relieve stress, stimulate the senses and promote calmness. One entry also said “the garden is important for the residents not only for them to enjoy being in an outdoor space that is safe and accessible but it’s also a great social space” which highlights the ways a garden can encourage residents to speak to one another and build lasting friendships.

Gardening From Wheelchair

Despite all the wonderful entries though, there could only be one winner…and we are thrilled to announce them as Abbeywood care home in Aldershot!

We were touched to see the heartfelt nomination written by their activities co-ordinator which talked about what difference this money could mean to them and how the garden was currently being used by the residents to connect with the community and spend time reflecting.

We learnt that Abbeywood would use the money to encourage local woodland wildlife so that the residents may enjoy watching the birds and other creatures in the garden, and also invest in some raised beds which would make gardening much easier for residents who have trouble bending down. We loved the idea of making the outdoor space a place for people to relax but also a place where residents may get involved with growing vegetables and gardening if they wish to.

There were also several other nominations for the same care home from families of residents which reflects the great care work they currently do. Well done Abbeywood – it’s so great to hear positive reviews!

Thank you to everybody who took the time to enter, we have really enjoyed the entries we’ve received and can’t wait to move forward with Abbeywood and their garden transformation.

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.